Headsets

Headsets

Artesys Mobility

Comms Business Magazine looks at the activity in the headset market and which models are selling well in the channel.

With the headset market still expanding dealers are feeling the squeeze as margins come under pressure in an aggressive marketplace according to distributor Nimans. “More and more people are going after the same business, so the market has become very aggressive and dealers are feeling the pinch. Corporate organisations are become increasingly more inclined to sacrifice service in favour of price,’ reports Nigel Raine, Head of Indirect Sales at Nimans.

Raine says the growing popularity of e-procurement auctions is accelerating that price-driven process amongst corporate customers. “Buyers are using e-procurement to drive down costs by pitching suppliers against each other. If your price is taken as a starting point, as does happen, you immediately face being undercut.”

He argues that longer term buyers will find this strategy is not sustainable as poor service generates dissatisfaction. “They say these e-systems take into account service as well as price, but that does not seem to be the case. Recently one of our dealers lost a client following an e-procurement auction. The business went to a rival which that company had previously dropped because of poor service standards. IT and telecom managers are as frustrated as us because these decisions are not taken by them but by buyers, and yet they know and appreciate the value of good service.

“Longer term I think service will win out though. You only have to let people down once and that’s it.”

 

Selling Well

GN Netcom’s GN2000 unit has enjoyed a successful launch through Nimans thanks to good pricing, a hardwearing yet comfortable design and outstanding call clarity which have made it an excellent everyman choice. Explaining its success Raine said: “It’s brand new, at the right price point and is a very decent headset that has wide applications.”

GN Netcom’s GN9120 cordless DECT headset has also proven a winner with Nimans’ customers, aided by a hugely popular buy-two-get-one-free promotion on midi, micro and flex booms that has now been extended to the end of the year.

Plantronics meanwhile is experiencing continuing success with the Supraplus family, an upgrade to its well established Supra models. Benefiting once more from the expertise of Plantronics’ design team,

which is now headed by former BMW designer John Caddes, the Supraplus headsets look, feel and perform impressively. “Both style and functionality are equally good, with enhanced receive-side audio quality and an intelligent flexible boom which delivers great comfort,” commented Mr. Raine.
 

Wireless/DECT/Bluetooth

The GN 9120 and Plantronics CS60 are still proving to be the best sellers in the DECT headset range. The wireless market is still growing steadily as more and more office workers are looking to improve their working conditions. Wireless headsets allow productivity to be increased because staff are not tied to the phone or, because of the lack of cord, their desk. The freedom to move around the office whilst talking seems to be increasingly more important.

The Plantronics’ Voyager 510 and GN Netcom’s 6210 allow a regular desk phone to be Bluetooth enabled so that mobile and desk phones can be paired together. Experience shows that these systems are a huge hit with IT and telecoms workers, because they appeal most to people who are regularly using their mobile phone as well as their landlines. The Voyager and the 6210 provide a bridge between desk and the rock face.

 
 
Nimans Tips for Building Headset Sales:
 

Look for growth in your established relationships. Poaching simply erodes everybody’s margins.

Look out for new products to sell to existing customers and think headsets. They’re a relatively easy sale and can add much needed margin to a wider sale.

Look for Greenfield sites, the offices where there are no cordless headsets for example. The office market is immense. Nimans can support you by providing demo units for your customers.

Always look to add value to a sale. Good service builds customer loyalty; poor service throws away custom and reputation.

 
 

Hot Product

When GN Netcom launched their 2000 Series in May this year the vendor was trying to gain further traction on their larger rival Plantronics. At the time their President, Hans Henrik Lund told Comms Business Magazine, “We’ve listened to the market and used our extensive experience to create a value-priced headset that’s really built to last. And that makes the GN 2000 perfect for busy contact centres. And it’s not just tough. We made sure it’s lightweight too, so people can wear it comfortably throughout a long workday.”

The GN 2000 is a straightforward, easy-to-use headset designed to eliminate adjustment hassles and breakage. It is available in both mono and duo styles with either a special noise-cancelling microphone mounted on a flex boom arm or standard microphone and Sound Tube. By reducing unwanted background noise, GN Netcom’s noise-cancelling technology enables crystal clear communications with customers, each and every call, even in busy offices.

Feather-light, self-adjusting ear cushions provide both comfort and better acoustical coupling, ensuring a rich incoming signal. “Unlike other so-called ‘wideband’ headsets that cut off around 4000 Hz, the GN 2000 provides full frequency response from 150 – 6800 Hz so agents enjoy optimum call clarity with significantly less need to ask customers to repeat themselves. And that can really increase productivity,” explains Hans Henrik Lund.

In addition to units featuring Quick Disconnect cords (QD), the GN 2000 will also be available with a USB connector for VoIP applications. In fact, all the headsets in the GN 2000 series can be retrofitted with a USB adaptor if technical needs change. Complete with in-line call controls, the GN 2000 USB is a true plug-and-play product that is Windows compliant. The GN 2000 noise-cancelling version was launched in the UK in June with the non-noise cancelling Tube variant and the hard wired USB version becoming available in September.

 

Reseller Action

One reseller who has identified the potential of headset sales is Comms Channel Award winner Actimax who have become a dynamic newcomer to the headsets sector. Managing Director John Massey, through providing communications systems for the company’s many call centre customers, saw the potential of the market. Promoting headsets is a natural spin-off for Actimax’ core business.

Actimax has entered the market more strongly as the trend grows towards better, more advanced headsets saying that with imminent new health and safety legislation, there will be more people using headsets in all types businesses.

Massey, “The increasingly popular wireless solutions available mean that gone are the days of operators being tied to their desks with wire connections. With ever improving technology, operators are able to accept a call either at their

desk or up to a range of 50m away, and move around the office to carry out tasks, an invaluable resource to those running scheduling boards, teams of people or Receptionists / PA’s on the move.

Whilst optimising efficiency in the workplace, headsets also assist with staff well-being by allowing them to maintain back and neck posture, avoiding the proven damage that results from the phone being held between the neck and shoulder.

The growing market for headsets has brought a proliferation of designs, styles and different connections. But every type is not compatible with every telephone system. The technology to describe the products can be very confusing. There is so much complex information that companies can easily waste money – and frequently do – by purchasing headsets that will not work with their phone systems. When this happens they often blame the phone systems rather than the headsets. To overcome this, Actimax has set up part of our corporate website www.actimax.co.uk dedicated to headsets .

This offers an overview aimed at simplifying the subject. Then there is a guide that takes potential purchases through the options to find out what will work with their systems and what will suit the individual end user of the headset. There is a comprehensive choice and the guide helps customers to make the right choice of a product that will work on their telephone system when it arrives.”

 

Headset Terminology

Actimax has put together a guide to headset terminology for Comms Business Magazine readers.

Monaural: The monaural headset, with just one earpiece, is ideal for those who do not need a high level of acoustic isolation. It may be worn either on the left of right ear according to preference.

Binaural: The binaural headset has two earpieces and it is ideal for situations which require the utmost concentration or in the presence of particularly high background noise in the workplace.

Ear Loop: Headsets of this type are worn by fitting a soft rubber loop support around the ear. Made of non-allergenic materials, this anatomically shaped solution is ideal for those who do not wish to use the more commonplace headband.

Noise Cancelling: Headsets with noise cancelling microphones are able to reduce transmitted background noise by up to 95%, ensuring clear intelligible speech. This technology is absolutely necessary in Call Centres or in any situation where excellent speech transmission is demanded.

Professional: The professional headset is recommended for every kind of activity that demands the utmost in acoustic performance and functional reliability (Call Centres, telemarketing operations, help desks etc.).

Wireless: The wireless headset is designed to ensure maximum freedom of movement.

Line Busy Indicator: Headsets equipped with the line busy indicator warn that the user is busy in a telephone conversation. The line busy indicator can be disabled by the user.

Quick Link: Professional headset cords terminate with Quick Link, a special connect / release connector. Its structure has been studied to assure a long-lasting reliability and its self-cleaning contacts are guaranteed for more than 100,000 connections. Quick Link allows you to unhook the headset during a phone-call without interrupting the line.

 

AMPLIFIER / ADAPTORS – TELEPHONES

Multimedia version: The multimedia Amplifier/Adaptor interfaces the headset to both telephone and PC so that they may be alternately connected. It is equipped with an auxiliary audio port from which a cord implements the connection to the PC’s sound card or to a call recording system based on a digital or analogue recorder.

Battery Power Supply: The Amplifier/Adaptor is powered either with batteries or with optional external power adaptor.

Super RX: The Amplifier/Adaptor with Super RX function allows the user to increase the receiving efficiency. This function is particularly useful in cases of low signal levels or high background noise.

Bass Booster: The Amplifier/Adaptor with Bass Booster function allows the user to select from two frequency responses, either natural or with low frequency (bass) emphasis.

Acoustic Protection: The Amplifier/Adaptor employs a sophisticated electronic circuit which constantly controls the incoming acoustic signal level. Should the signal exceed predefined levels, an Automatic Gain Control system is activated. This function provides total hearing protection from signals commonly regarded as potentially damaging to hearing (discharge noise, static, fax tones, etc.).

USB Port: The telephone or Amplifier/Adaptor is equipped with a serial USB port. This feature allows for connection to recent generation PCs for hosting applications.

 
Actimax – www.actimax.co.uk
Nimans – www.nimans.net
GN Netcom – www.gnnetcom.co.uk
 
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